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Conflicted Creating

In our ever evolving world of competing ideas and innovations it is easy to find oneself torn between ideas. On one hand there is a need to recognize rampant overconsumption, overuse of resources, and an exhausting sea of stuff that we as humans find our selves swimming through. On the other hand... we need to eat, and pay bills, and maybe one day be able to pay for some therapy... This is where I currently find myself.

I have spent many hours volunteering to help reduce litter and solid waste. I have spearheaded events, committees and campaigns. I've spent time in roadside ditches pulling out countless shoes, bottles, food wrappers and all manner of things that people threw out their windows as if the world was their trash can. I've got time invested and deep feelings about the state of things. But on the other hand... I have a family with needs. I have needs. An internal debate rages. I don't want to contribute to the waste but I want to share my art with others and meet my financial needs. So how does one who is very invested reducing waste reconcile that with the desire to create?

I have landed on a few paths that, for me, ease this inner tension. First, I've had to remind myself that I don't carry the world and it's decisions on my shoulders so I should probably chill out a little. While it is indeed all of our collective drops in this bucket that ultimately fill it up; research shows that large corporations have, by far, the biggest impacts. I make strides to help, I can't beat myself up for every little thing that I'm not doing. Also, I've had to remind myself that I have a right to attempt to thrive.

One way I bridge the gap between sustainability and creativity is to use recycled materials to make art. I've turned plastic bottles into bouquets of beautiful blossoms. Every year I create an awareness scarecrow out of litter and recycled materials for a local annual event. I turn torn up book pages into cute little gift bags. I seek out options that are sustainably sourced or buy second hand canvases, paints, and other supplies for more traditional artworks. I also use recycled packaging when I send art in the mail. There are myriads of small and big choices I make to lesson impacts where I can.

Recently, I've also started to utilize print-on-demand services. This one felt harder to reconcile upon first consideration, but as I've thought more about it, print-on-demand has several features that help reduce possible environmental impacts while allowing me to meet my need for financial stability. It allows me to offer a wide range of products and options to meet peoples needs without incurring unnecessary production costs or figuring out storage space in my small home for excess inventory. It reduces waste and impacts when products are only produced when there is a demand for them. Also, the company I selected, uses recyclable packaging for shipping.

The internal debates over sustainability versus creativity will likely rage on for me and, I suspect, other creators in perpetuity. We can do our best to get informed and try to be a bit better each day but we also have to remind ourselves that the burdens and issues facing the world don't fit or belong on our shoulders alone. It's also beneficial to remind ourselves that we can't effectively help improve the world if our own basic needs aren't met.

Those are my thoughts. Now, I'd love to hear what you think in the comments! Does a side of you that recognizes issues in the world wrestle with another area of your life?

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